We are approaching the halfway point in the league phase in the 2023 World Cup.
Narratives are forming, the leading teams are edging closer to semi-final and the early stragglers are already on the verge of knockout, with qualification becoming a mathematical impossibility.
Here is our latest batch of Power Rankings and our first since the tournament began.
The home side are looking imperious. You can make a reasonable case that India currently boast the best two openers, the best No. 3, the most in-form keeper-batter, the best seam-bowling all-rounder, the best spin-bowling all-rounder, the best fast bowler and the most in-form wrist-spinner. India have been dominant so far; they will take some stopping.
New Zealand (3)
The other unbeaten side in the tournament, the 2019 runners up are primed to reached yet another ICC tournament knockout stage. New Zealand actually top the table with a marginally better Net Run Rate than India but have also enjoyed a comparatively less strenuous fixture list. It will be interesting to see how their batting heavy team balance stands up against some of the stronger line-ups in the competition.
After a poor start Australia have got their campaign back on track with back-to-back victories over Sri Lanka and Pakistan. They do not look as slick as the top two teams just yet – their middle order is yet to really fire – but things are slowly falling into place. Adam Zampa’s return to form is a welcome bonus.
South Africa (5)
A strange campaign so far. The Proteas raced out of the blocks, registering an all-time record total against Sri Lanka before thumping Australia at Lucknow. Just as Temba Bavuma’s side began to establish themselves as realistic title contenders, the wheels came off in defeat to the Netherlands as they came unstuck against the Dutch spin attack in particular. Their lop-sided balance that leaves them vulnerable if they lose early wickets with Marco Jansen at seven was exposed, but despite that result they remain a dangerous side more than capable of beating anyone on their day.
Players are falling out of form at the wrong time. Other than Mohammed Rizwan, key players are short of their best, namely Babar Azam, Shadab Khan and even Shaheen Afridi despite his five-for against Australia. They are by no means out of contention just yet but given the nature of their defeats to India and Pakistan, they look a long way off seriously challenging for the title. Like the teams immediately beside them in these rankings, do not be surprised if Pakistan slip up against one of the lower ranked teams.
The reigning champions face one hell of an uphill battle if they are to retain their crown. Handsomely beaten by not only New Zealand but Afghanistan, Jos Buttler’s side have been uncharacteristically passive with the bat and have had one of the least threatening bowling attacks at the tournament so far. They’ve got the talent to turn their fortunes around but they need to get a move on.
A mixed campaign for Afghanistan so far. Their victory over England is one of the results of the tournament so far but they have been resoundingly beaten in their other three games. On their day, they give anyone a contest but their middle order, surely the flimsiest at the tournament, just isn’t consistent enough for them to mount a serious challenge to get to the knockouts.
In truth, there’s not much that separates the bottom four sides. Bangladesh have lacked the firepower to threaten the top teams but they picked up a comfortable victory over Afghanistan at Dharamshala. In 2019, they finished eighth with three wins only finishing below South Africa on Net Run-Rate. At the moment it’s hard to see them significantly bettering that effort in more favourable conditions.
The Dutch secured one of the great World Cup upsets in beating a high flying South Africa. They have a well balanced side, boasting six dependable frontline bowling options with batting depth that sees the dangerous Roelof van der Merwe come in as low as nine. Do not be surprised if they cause another upset or two before this tournament ends.
Sri Lanka (7)
There have been positive signs in each of their defeats but Sri Lanka are ultimately the only winless side at the competition so far. It can’t be underestimated how big a blow losing Wanindu Hasaranga has been.